Thursday, February 4, 2010
Safe Eyes Mobile - First Hand Experience
Back in December I posted a segment introducing you to an "app" for iPhones and the iPod Touch called "Safe Eyes Mobile." At the time, my experience with it was limited to what I had read online and a few opportunities to see the app in action on friend's devices. For Christmas, my kids (11 and soon to be 13) both got an iPod Touch, so naturally I wanted to make their online experience with their new toys as safe as possible (and let me remind you that the iPod Touch can connect to the internet through a wireless connection just like a computer). I purchased the app for $19.99 and loaded it onto both of my kids' iPod Touch.
Installing it was easy. There were a few screens of setup I had to do on each iPod and it required me to create a master administrative account so that I alone could change settings. During setup I chose the types of site content I wanted filtered out (like adult, violence, hate, etc.). Naturally I checked most of the options only to find that it filtered EVERY site out, including most news sites and even National Geographic Kids. Lesson learned - you can't go crazy with blocking things out or it will block everything. The nice thing about the app is that I can change settings as we go along. When a site is blocked that shouldn't be, I can add it to the "allow" list. If a bad site slips through the filters I can add it to the "block" list. The app will obviously have to evolve as my kids use it which means, like any filtering/monitoring software, it will require my time to maintain and adjust it. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it, when it comes to keeping your kids safe online, there is no magic application that you set once and walk away from. If you want the software to do its job you have to put some time in.
Safe Eyes Mobile is actually it's own browser, it is not a filtering device for the iPod/iPhone's native browser (called Safari). When you install SafeEyes, your kids must access the internet through it or it will not work. That means that you have to disable Safari once Safe Eyes is installed. The cool thing is that when you install Safe Eyes, it reminds you that you need to disable Safari and walks you through the steps to do it. And, don't worry, you can always enable it later if you want to (though your kids can't). You should also keep in mind that there are other browser apps out there that your kids can download and install. If they do, then Safe Eyes is worthless. Check your child's device often and look for other browsers. Honestly you should be checking them regularly anyway so you know what is on them. If you don't know what an app is, make them open it up and show you.
So far so good. I like Safe Eyes Mobile. For $19.99 it was worth it. I would certainly recommend it to other parents. Here is the link again if you are interested: http://www.internetsafety.com/safe-eyes-mobile-iphone.php.